Aug 012014
 

The Walter Leica Contrast Lens, an invaluable addition to your M

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Walter over at Leicawalter.com sent me an email message about his latest item he has created and made available to all Leica M users, and this one appears to be fantastic. It is a contrast lens that goes over your eyepiece and will give you much more contrast when viewing through the viewfinder. This will make it easier to focus, easier to see and give you a more pleasurable experience when using your Leica M.

Here is what Walter says about the contrast lens:

In order to get the best focusing possibilities for our clients, we created the WALTER contrast lense.

This amazing eyepiece has a special golden colour coating, which intensifies the light, resulting in better contrast for easier focusing.

The lense is manufactured by hand, utilizing the best optics available and is mounted in solid ‘Gun Kote’ brass.
Multi coated optics to reduce glare.
Contrast-enhancing tint for improved focusing.
Refined and improved dimensions.
Larger optical curved lense for clearer, wider view.
Simply screws into any Leica M camera.
Coating can be used with prescription lenses (WALTER eyepiece), diopter lenses and plano (normal) lenses.
Special launch price: $180.00 (includes postage by registered airmail)
Please enquire about lead time.

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Walter tells me that Leica themselves had a similar golden coating on some early M3 cameras, and that they actually used real gold so it became to expensive to implement.

If you would like  to pre-order the Leica Walter Contrast Lense, you can do so directly at walterleica.com HERE. Walter told me there is a 2 week wait time right now on this piece.

Steve

 

Jul 312014
 

Lens Turbo II Review

By Henrik Kristensen

Hi My name is Henrik Kristensen, and I am so lucky to be able to share my work on this amazing site. English is not my strongest, so hope it’s not to bad – Feel free to ask is there is any doubt. Got a small Danish camera site (Kameravalg.dk), and recently received the brand new Lens Turbo II adapter, and want to share my experience with it. Its pretty much a cheap Metabones adapter, thats turn your APS-C Sony NEX camera into full frame – Or that’s what the ad tells you :-) … It will provide 0.726x magnification and increase aperture by 1 f-stop, using Canon EF lenses on the Sony E-Mount platform.

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The setup:

I’m a hobbyist photographer, and often just use “Auto” settings, so this review was quit a challenge, since this is a 100% manual adapter with no electronic.

To start with this is my setup:

- Sony NEX-3N mirrorless

- Canon 24-105L f4 lens (Rentet)

- Lens Turbo II adapter – Canon EF to Sony E-Mount

(All pictures have been shot in .jpeg with no editing done)

To show the size and how its work, I made this little film.

And just a single picture, the Canon 24-105L mountet on my Sony NEX-3N with the Lens Turbo II adapter.

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Maybe a detail, but on the new version they have removed the red text and made it white – Looks way better + the black and white match the NEX-3N great I think.

The First day:

As told in the top, I have just rented the Canon 24-105L, so the first day was used just to get learn how to manual focus etc. The first test was the range, and with the 0.726x magnification this adapter got, you get pretty close to the Full Frame experience on this point. 

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24 vs 105mm, and to me this is a GREAT range when shooting on a daily basis. Is used to my old Sony 18-70mm, and the ~4x optical zoom range fits me very nice.

The adapter is all manual, and these was some of the first pictures I snapped that were in focus :-)

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Second day

Being a amateur photographer and alway use autofocus, the hole “Manual” thing was something I really feared.But there was nothing to fear, the “focus peaking” in the Sony NEX works like a dream, even if you never tried it before. On my NEX the peaking colors are “White, Yellow and Red”, all easy to see on the screen when the subject is in focus. The only problem I found with focus peaking, was that I REALLY missed having a EVF like NEX-6/7 or the A6000. I am sure it will make it much easier to see the focus peaking when the sun is bright, but not a deal breaker.

Lets see at some more pictures:

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One of the big problem with the first Lens Turbo, was the corners being soft and not sharp – A pretty big problem to most people. Being an amateur I will let people judge themself, but when compared to pictures taking by the old Lens Turbo, I think the new one is way better.

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Another problem with the first Lens Turbo, was an issue called “blue dot” – When shooting in the sun or bright light you could something see a blue “dot” on the pictures. Has only played with the Lens Turbo II adapter a short time, but has not seen this problem in ANY of my pictures  - Really looks like the new coating on Lens Turbo II has resolved this problem.

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After 2 days I had to deliver the Canon 24-105L back, and its time to look at the experience. Looking at the quality of the Lens Turbo II, I really got nothing to complain about. Its fit very well, and feels like a quality piece to put on your beloved camera. Is not a big fan of the release button to the lens, but think it’s a minor thing. Not being an expert, I will say that the adapter got a very nice optics performance – They have improved the corner performance compared to the old version, and the “blue dot” issue seems to be total gone.

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Using a small house like the NEX-3N I don’t think a bigger lens will be nice to work with, but the 24-105 is just about the right size to me. Using the adapter with focus peaking worked really well, and most people will learn it fast without any problem. It could be nice having a EVF + a bigger grip, but it’s no deal breaker.

Compared to the Metabones it’s almost on par in performance to my eyes, and it only cost 1/3 of the price ! – You don’t get the electronic connection, but with focus peaking it’s not a huge problem, and you can play with all the amazing Canon EF lenses.

It has been really fun to make this review, and it’s not the last time I play with the Lens Turbo II adapter ! … You can buy a Sony NEX-3N + the Canon 24-105L at a decent price second-hand, and the adapter cost around 165 Dollars = You got a very nice setup and a great platform to work with. -

You can see a lot more pictures on my site here:

http://kameravalg.dk/lens-turbo-ii/ (Unboxing)

http://kameravalg.dk/lens-turbo-ii-review-foerste-skud/ (First day)

http://kameravalg.dk/lens-turbo-ii-review-billeder-fim-og-tanker/ (Second day)

Thanks for reading! Regards Henrik Kristensen – Kameravalg.dk

Jul 292014
 

A look at the Lumu iPhone Light Meter

By Brandon Huff

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Ahhh now here we have it! The Lumu, which is an external iPhone light meter! This little device plugs right into the headphone jack of an iPhone. Once you do this, all you have to do is download the Lumu app which then shows Aperture, Shutter speed then ISO you simply use it like a normal light meter, putting it next to your subject or pointing it in the direction of which you are shooting press measure then it shows all the information needed. Take this information and set your camera using it and you should have a perfect exposure!

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The light meter and app itself are very snappy. Let’s say you want to shoot at ISO 800 and need the shutter speed info for your lighting situation…you simply set the meter app to ISO 800 and then press the”measure” button and it will give you the shutter speed and aperture needed for that scenario. Same goes for if you want to shoot at f/2  - set the app to f/2 and it will tell you what ISO and exposure to use. Simple.

BUT! In use I have encountered one little issue. After you get used to the app and actually take a photo I noticed it was slightly underexposing when using my Nikon V1 to  test it with.  You can calibrate it inside the app although it does not really explain how to do it perfectly, but I was finding my shots slightly underexposed. This is great for preserving highlights but it is not a 100% correct exposure. See the samples below…

Using the Lumu  - Nikon V1

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Using the cameras built in light meter – Nikon V1

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These photos are straight from camera JPGS and there has been no editing of any kind. Yes, the difference is not huge and its nothing too crazy that a little Photoshop can’t fix but it is not perfect.

The price of this Device is $150 US Dollars and you can buy it direct HERE. In my opinion it is worth it if you wish to have a small yet useful light meter. Problem is when your phone dies you have no light meter, other light meters batteries last way longer than an iPhone battery will which makes them more reliable.

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So I decided to try the meter in direct sunlight, F4 with the Nikon 30-110 lens I must say it really underexposed on this one,  now could this be user error? Sure, it could be! I have only used this tiny guy a little bit, but imagine if I was shooting out of an old TLR and I thought all my images were coming out correctly, when all I’m actually doing is wasting film and money for images that may be unusable. I verified I was using the meter correctly and following the directions supplied with the device. It says to bring the phone by your subject and aim the meter towards the camera. This is what I did and you can see the results below:

Direct sun Lumu Metering

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Direct sun aperture priority mode – Nikon V1 meter (overexposed)

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The Lumu always seems to underexpose it and the in camera meters have slightly over exposed this photo, it seems you just have to mess with it a little bit, figure out what you are looking for. In the above situation the Lumu gave me the preferred exposure as I can always lighten that image up but can not really fix the blown highlights in the V1 exposed image.

If you are using strictly analog I recommend getting a proprietary light meter, however if you shoot mostly digital but film sometimes I strongly recommend this Lumu.  Another good feature of this little gizmo is that you can measure light intensity in the room at a constant scan rate. For the price though this product isn’t too bad. IMO it is better than spending $400+  on a light meter if you don’t need or rely on one all the time. It is pocketable and you can even wear it around your neck with the included necklace or carrying case (that will connect to your strap).

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If you are thinking about purchasing one of these Id look to see if it will work with your device if using Amdroid, I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 and it won’t register even though I have the app. Its made for iPhones more than android devices and it works great on my iPhone.

Brandon

Jul 112014
 

J.B. Camera Designs wooden grip for the Sony RX100 III

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You are either going to really dig this or really hate it. Me, I think it is pretty damn sweet as it is different, and for me, different is always good. Amazon has a few left in stock (prime eligible) of this very cool and very affordable wooden grip designed by J.B. Camera Designs. I love J.B. stuff and this one is no exception. For the RX100 series the one thing that most people complain about is the grip, or lack of a grip. You can buy a cool half case like this one from Gariz, or you can just add a grip. Richard Franiec sells a black grip similar to the wooden one above (but it is not wood) and many love that one (as I did on the original RX100) as it is basic, simple and black so it blens in with the camera body and looks like it was built that way.

So you have options and this is just one of them.

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But if you want something cool, something unique and something that is an eye catcher and possibly a conversation starter, give the J.B. Wooden grip a try. At under $25, it will not break the bank and it will add some originality to your little powerhouse camera.

BTW, the RX100 III is one hell of a camera. Sony is going strong my friends, making all kinds of good decisions and the year is not over yet!

If you want to check out the J.B. Wooden Grip, you can see it or order it HERE on Amazon. 

Jul 102014
 

Using a Zoomfinder

By Steve Tsai

Hello Steve Huff Photo community, I have stumbled across an invaluable side benefit of a zoomfinder in my photography process and would like to share my experience with it. It is for wide-angle application and architectural interior photography in this report, but hopefully it can be beneficial for other applications as well!

For those unfamiliar with a zoomfinder, it is an external finder with a zooming capability for compositional aid, typically used on a rangefinder or a non mirror-reflex camera. It mounts to the hotshoe and there are a few choices out there. In my case I use the Voigtlander Zoomfinder, Arca Swiss Vario Finder, and to a small extent the Alpa eFinder App on the iPhone.

Framing aid Apps on the smart phone is pretty handy indeed but the requirement of an external wide-angle lens adaptor and the annoyance of dealing with electronic device where multiple button presses, non-instantaneous viewing, and concerns of battery life hinder the speed and usability for me so I am skipping it in this report.

Below are brief descriptions of the zoomfinders in use:

The Arca Swiss Vario Finder

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Along with different masks it simulates framing including rise/fall and shifted lens positions. Users zoom the housing to desired lens focal length marking and put a corresponding metal mask on the front which clips on by the recessed magnets in the front frame. There are 3 masks in total but for my use I only need 2 of them. My finder is an older design, newer finders have guided pin slots which is even cooler for keeping orthogonal movements.

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The mask can be slid in both axis to show movement – each dot simulates 5mm of movement and can be seen through the viewfinder. Here is a view that simulates 10mm of rise and 10mm of left shift.

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The image quality is nice and bright, with apparent barrel distortion, gets much better when zoomed in though. The image appear to be slightly blurry on the periphery if your eye is not in the right position or not square to the eyepiece which acts as a clever visual feedback to put your eye in the right position for accurate framing. The proportion is 4:3 which corresponds to medium format digital back sensor size.

Here is how it looks like when mounted on the technical camera, it has mounting foot for both landscape and portrait orientation.

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Voigtlander 15-35mm Zoomfinder
This a well designed and solidly-built finder which operates similar to a zoom lens. There are notched positions for focal length presets similar to aperture ring on a M rangefinder lens and has a built-in diopter on the eyepiece. Depending on the model it will also indicate equivalent focal lengths for various cropped sensors. In use on a rangefinder it is a bit of a dance as Steve explained in a previous post. Metering and framing are carried out by viewfinder on camera and the Zoomfinder separately. Due to the larger distance it mounts away from the lens, parallax effect is more exaggerated for closer distance subjects with the super wide lenses. Here is how the zoomfinder looks like when mounted to the M9-P.

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The experience is similar to an SLR where views are masked instead of frameline overlay of a rangefinder, there is a dotted line on top to indicate close range frame edge. The images quality is excellent, distortion is very mild and zoom simulation works extremely well. There is slight fringing if you point at bright sources. The proportion is 2:3 which corresponds to small format sensor size. Here is a comparison showing 15mm and 35mm views, note the slight fringing.

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Now to the main point of the article – how the zoomfinder can make our lives easier. For years I have looked for solutions that will help with certain challenges I encounter on a shoot – which the zoomfinder eventually solved for me.

Here are the benefits:

1. Scouting Aid
Prior to the shoot, one can go around the space and preview contemplated scenes using various focal lengths in a very nimble fashion. For architectural interiors, one frequently gets pinned to confined space during framing, it is much easier to handle and preview with such a small and light device.

2. Visualization and Focal length selector.
For those of us sensitive to the compositional impact related to exaggeration of perspective inherent in various wide-angle focal lengths it is sometimes hard to choose the proper prime lens without preview. The zoomfinder shows the effect in combination with the physical distance to the subject. You can quickly decide if you want to stand back and use a 28mm or get closer and use a 24mm along with the look of each lens. It is such a time-saver. The relatively low optical distortion in the viewfinder just makes the preview actually enjoyable and non-distracting compared to lower grade viewfinders.

3. Stitching Preview
For those of us that use shift lens and stitching capture workflow it is hard to see the composition during the shoot. Through my own tests I have worked out equivalent focal length of the stitched focal length. The 24 PC-E becomes 18mm with cropped sides or 21mm safe frame. The 45 PC-E becomes 28mm with cropped sides or 35mm safe frame. Safe frame is for cropping out the corner vignette when maximum shifts are used. You can quickly preview the finished image with the zoomfinder. Here is an image that shows 3 images from capture and the finished stitch.

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4. Camera Position Aid
The effect of camera height is very important in interiors. With the viewfinder I can preview the scene and determine exact camera position very quickly. Once I identify the desired position, I will hold the zoomfinder in place with one hand and then drag the camera + tripod over with the other hand to match the optimal position quicker and then fine tune to suit.

For the benefits above, the zoomfinder has become so invaluable that I carry it on me during the shoot at all times. Previously I used a mini ballhead along with a tripod button and a safety noose.

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Early on in the year I dug into my luthier roots and made a stabilized hardwood handle for it. A belt clip gun holster provides easy reach and secured carry. I often have to move furniture and arrange items in the scene so the belt clip is the best carry as it will not swing around during active motions.

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I know this is a very specific application and a small camera with a wide zoom can achieve the same function. However the small size and simple, convenient use during a physical shoot just makes it so much easier for me. If there is a wish to make it even better… a 15 to 50mm zoomfinder would make it out right amazing although definitely not at the expense of distortion though! The experience is so important and can make your shoot enjoyable when scenes do not appear warpy like a Salvador Dali painting. I have considered a dual hot shoe that mounts both the zoomfinder and a separate 50mm finder but it will make the size much larger and stability would be of concern.

If one can make a custom precision mount that adapts the zoomfinder to a smartphone it can be used as a good quality wide angle zoom adaptor as well. Maybe it will be a project for the DIY crowd with a 3d printer out there!

Maybe in 5 years google glass will have a thought controlled view window that can zoom and crop to simulate a viewfinder – consider this a free idea if anyone wants to take this on with crowd sourcing!

You can find me at:

Website
http://www.stevetsai.photography/

Stevie Rave On blog
http://stevetsaiphotography.com/wp/

Flickr
https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevieraveon/

Jun 202014
 

Novoflex Leica M 240 Macro Extension Tube Visoflex III Adapter

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The Novoflex Visoflex III close up adapter for Leica M is a unique product. It is the 1st of its kind that is portable and allows macro photography with a Leica M 240 camera. Basically it is a series of screw on rings that allow focusing with almost any M lens in the macro range. I tested it with a 50 Summicron and even a 100mm Canon vintage lens and it did great. Many of you may know that Leica has a new Macro adapter out and it comes in at $600+. The Novoflex is made in Germany and fits the M camera like a glove with the usual Novoflex build, finish and fit.

See my video below:

I am not a macro kind of guy but Ken Hansen sent me one to try out and I am pleased that there is finally a solution for Macro shooting on an M camera! This will work only on the M 240 as you need Live View to use it (lens will not focus with the RF).

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Here is what Novoflex says about their product:

“Thanks to its variable design the new LEM/VIS-II adapter set adds several new applications for Leica M240 photographers. It’s adapter and extension tube in one.
The following options are available:

Visoflex II/III-lenses can be used at the Leica M240 camera without reflex housing (focusing up to infinity).
LTM-lenses can be used with all Leica M-mount cameras.
Leica M-mount lenses can be used for close-up and macro images. Variable extension is possible (3 inner rings, 10mm extension each).
Depending on the use of the 3 inner rings magnifications between 0,28:1 – 0,84:1 can be achieved (50mm Leica M lens)”

At $370 the adapter is very unique, versatile and allows you to get very up close and personal with your M. When the adapter is attached you can not use the lens as normal, so it is strictly limited for Macro duty. If you want one, email Ken Hansen at [email protected]

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Jun 162014
 

New Western Digital, Blacksmith Labs, Cecilia Straps and more!

Hey guys! Just wanted to share a new video I put up on my YouTube channel today (video is above). I had a few things that were sent to me to check out and I wanted to show off some of my faves.

 

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Western Digital My Passport Pro 4TB Travel RAID Drive

First of all is the Western Digital My Passport Pro 4TB hard drive, which is a portable drive I will use for my travel needs. This is a double 4TB RAID drive capable of 233 MBPS. It is a Thunderbolt drive and comes in at around $429. It is available at Amazon and I highly recommend it. You can see it in the video above.

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Blacksmith Labs iPhone Case

I have had one of the Blacksmith Labs iPhone cases here for a month or two and find that it is a very well made case. Soft supple leather and a great design with easy phone access, it is a nice attractive case. I am not one for belt clip phone cases but if you are, you will want to take a look as the quality is very high. I go over it in the video above so take a look! You can visit Blacksmith Labs HERE.

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Cecilia Camera Straps

Cecilia Gallery camera straps look like those old school wide strap camera straps and they are pretty much the same but with a couple of exceptions. They are made of full leather and 100% Alpaca Wool. So these are basically a sort of Luxury strap and they have many designs and colors to try out/check out. I have had one for about a month and found the strap to be comfortable and stylish, and different. They range from $90 to $100 and offer beauty, super construction and something unique. You can see more of it in the video above and you can check out the designs and straps direct at Cecilia by clicking HERE.

 

Jun 142014
 

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The Ona Leather Berlin Bag IN STOCK NOW

UPDATE: They sold out within 40 minutes of this post this morning. 

Just a quick note to let all of you know that the Ona Berlin is NOW IN STOCK at Amazon RIGHT HERE at this link and the best part is that it is PRIME eligible and shipped by Amazon direct at the NORMAL retail price of $379! So to those who have been waiting and wanting the Berlin, GET IT HERE. 

You can see my review of the bag HERE. ONA sold out of this bag within 24 hours and it seems they made more. Amazon has 5 left in stock as of this writing. 

Jun 122014
 

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How much gear can you squeeze into an ONA Bowery bag for a trip to Japan?

By Pierre Aden

You can order the Bowery HERE

When it comes to camera gear I am constantly searching for the perfect combination of compactness, quality and convenience – like many of you do for sure. For my latest trip to Japan in May 2014 I neither wanted to bother myself nor my girlfriend with big bags of equipment and heavy tripods,
including lengthy sessions of swapping lenses. Vacation should be fun after all.

After I came back I thought my experiences using my current setup could be interesting for other people facing the same challenge, so I asked Steve to publish my report and thanks to him I can share my results with you now.

Many people avoid the problems mentioned above for good reasons, they use one camera and a superzoom lens and that’s it – and this is perfectly fine! Unfortunately I’m a big fan of extreme short focal lengths so given this fact I am forced to bring at least two additional lenses – an ultra-wide
lens and a fisheye. Furthermore I don’t like tripods (well, at least I don’t like carrying them and spending too much time with long exposures – again, my girlfriend doesn’t like this either, he he). I have a small tripod that fits in my jacket but I don’t use it on a daily basis, during my 14 days of
vacation I only used it on two evenings. This means that I need a camera with a good stabilizer for handheld shots and prime lenses with a large aperture. Finally I like a variety of focal lengths on my pictures, so a couple of primes need to be in the bag.

You see, it’s getting complicated and the superzoom lens is disqualified based on my personal requirements. So let me show you my approach of having a small bag, minimizing lens swapping and having all the focal lengths that I like with me all the time.

Equipment:
– ONA Bowery bag
– Sony Alpha 6000 E-Mount
– Sony SEL1018 UWA zoom
– Olympus OMD-EM-1
– Olympus PEN E-PL5
– Rokinon 7.5mm F3.5 Fisheye
– Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8
– Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8
– Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8
– Remote Control for the Sony A6000
– 3 extra batteries
– USB stick for backup
– lens pen
– hand wrist strap
– extra memory cards
– cleaning tissue

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.. and this is what it looks like on me…

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Pretty small, isn’t it? It’s neither heavy nor big and I was able to carry it all day without getting problems with my shoulder / back. The daily “start setup” was usually the A6000 with the SEL1018, The OM-D EM-1 with the 75mm F1.8 and the Olympus PEN E-PL5 with the 17mm F1.8 attached. In addition the Rokinon Fisheye and the 45mm F1.8 lens for MFT were in the bag and if required I attached these lenses to the PEN and stored the detached lens in the bag. While walking down the streets / parks / temples etc. I just grabbed the combination I “needed” for the individual moment and took the picture. Often I used more than one camera to have some different views of the scene I was shooting. So lens swapping was very rare because in many situations one or more of the combinations I was carrying were already fine.

The longest focal length is 75mm which means 150mm in terms of 35mm equivalent. Personally I don’t need more than that and use the 2x digital teleconverter on the EM-1 if required, sacrificing some quality. Since I don’t need it in 99% of the cases I can live with that and don’t carry an
extra lens.

I have a lens hood attached to the SEL1018 and sometimes I had two cheap JJC lens hoods for the 17mm / 45mm lenses with me when the sun was very bright but I didn’t use one for the 75mm. In my experience it’s not mandatory and it makes the lens much bigger, no room for that in my bag ;).

Let’s see some results – I will start with shortest focal length (Rokinon Fisheye 7.5mm) )and will end with the longest one (M.Zuiko 75mm). I’m using the Fisheye mostly for fun and because it brings some unique perspectives that I’m not able to see with my pure eyes. Only by looking through the viewfinder / on the screen I can see the world through the fisheye. Even though I don’t make many pictures with it I would definitely miss it in my bag. The Rokinon for MFT is also special because of the minimum focus distance of 9cm – this makes it nearly a wide-angle macro lens. Furthermore the short focal lengths makes low light handheld shots possible in many cases, especially using the EM-1 with the 5-axis stabilizer.

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The next lens which is slightly longer is the SEL1018 on the Sony A6000 - this is also my tripod combination in many cases. I like the APS-C sensor a little more than MFT for long exposures because it gives me some better results and I can go down to ISO 100. Since the SEL1018 is stabilized the lack of a stabilizer in the Sony A6000 is no issue. This combination is my main architecture / landscape lens and I like to use it a lot for some dramatic views. It’s also a good option for handheld in-camera HDR JPGs. For my trip I shot in JPG about 95% of the time, simply because I wanted to share pictures with my friends and family on a daily basis without spending
time on processing and because of the huge amount of data. Most of the time I didn’t really miss the lack of post-production possibilities but for long exposures I usually switch to RAW and process the pictures later at home using Lightroom and Photoshop.

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The 17mm lens for MFT is great for indoor shots due to the large aperture of 1.8. Nevertheless, in Japan it was the lens I used the least because the focal length is not one of my personal favorites and because on the PEN E-PL5 it was hard for me to guess if the resulting pictures were sharp due
to the not really great screen, at least compared to my other cameras. This is the reason why I switched to the PEN E-P5 after my vacation. It still fits in my bag perfectly and has a much better screen / stabilizer while being more expensive though. I used the 17mm primarily for some indoor pictures of “the small things” but also for some low light handheld shots .

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The M.Zuiko 45mm lens is a classic – cheap and sharp, great bang for the buck. Some might consider it too long for street photography but for me it was just fine. Using the very fast autofocus of the MFT cameras made it fun using this lens on the street. I thought it couldn’t get any better but the 75mm I bought during my vacation in Japan is even more impressive. This lens is of course much more expensive but I was able to get it rather cheap in Japan so I couldn’t resist. But let’s start with some pictures using the
45mm first:

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last but not least, the M.Zuiko 75mm lens. Razor sharp with an awesome bokeh, a real pleasure to use on the Olympus EM-1. Using the great 5-axis stabilizer it’s no problem using this lens even in low light without a tripod, really impressive. It instantly became my favorite lens and I used it on the street as well as for landscape pictures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So in a nutshell that’s my experience using my gear during the last vacation. Is it perfect? No, I already identified some room for optimization (like replacing the PEN E-PL5 with the PEN E-P5) but for me it was real close to a perfect compromise. On the other hand, our hobby wouldn’t be fun if we were not able to find improvements and get new gear on a regular basis, right ;)?

If you have comments, suggestions or simply would like to get in touch with me I will be more than happy if you contact me via the following channels:

Pictures (including the remaining ones from my trip to Japan)
www.ultraweit-verwinkelt.net

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/ultraweitverwinkelt

Google+
https://plus.google.com/110027262868810382651/posts
Thanks for your time!

Pierre

Jun 022014
 

I welcome a new Site Sponsor, COSYSPEED!

You can buy the COSYSPEED Camslinger HERE. My video review of the Camslinger is HERE.

One Handed Access

Hello to all! Just wanted to chime in and welcome the newest (and last for at least a year, no more room!) site sponsor, COSYSPEED! They are the ones who make the very interesting and cool Camslinger bag that is really not like a bag at all. In fact, when I wear mine I do not even feel like I have anything on at all (though it does look fannypack-ish) I reviewed the Camslinger a short time ago HERE and to this day I still use it from time to time when I do not need to carry a full large bag, In other words, if I run to do some street shooting it is perfect as the bag is around the waist and I do not even feel it on me. When my camera is needed I just pull it from my side, holster style. This was especially useful when I was out downtown one day street shooting. I walked and had zero weight on my shoulder and I forgot that I was even carrying my camera. I my review I spoke about how it could be tricky to unlatch..well, that went away after a couple of uses. The bag is actually quite different from other carrying systems out there. Very original and if I were to change anything it would be to make an all black version to be more stealthy. As it is they have bright green accents and it sort of sticks out when trying to be stealthy.

Upper Body Free

The Camslinger bags come in two sizes with one being small and one being medium-sized. The Camslinger 105 is perfect for mirror less cameras and the 160 is better for larger cameras. Both have the same quality build and materials and is made to withstand the elements. The prices range from $109-$119 so the price is reasonable. The bags are also available at B&H Photo for those who want to order in the USA.

Volumen

COSYSPEED recently did a video with Thomas Leuthard, who I met in Ireland at Castle Leslie a few months back. Thomas is a fantastic street shooter and shoots in B&W using a Olympus OM-D camera. His photos are fantastic and the video below shows him in action doing his thing.


I grabbed a shot of Thomas while in Ireland and he was always looking for a shot, even when we were all just hanging out as a group. Great guy and spectacular street shooter. Good to see he enjoyed the Camslinger as well.

thomas

So I thank CosySpeed for becoming a site sponsor as they are helping to keep this site going AND growing! Be sure to visit them HERE and if you want to purchase a Camslinger bag or just read more about it, check it all out HERE. 

May 222014
 

titleryk

The Wotancraft Ryker Camera Bag Review

This is mainly a video review of the beautiful Wotancraft Ryker bag. I will add some words after the video below:

Not everyone is a camera bag kind of person. Many just prefer to take their camera and one lens out on the street with them and roll. Others like to have choices and bring a bag with a lens or two just in case they want to change it up while they are out. There are hundreds, if not thousands of bags manufactured in the camera world. Some are cheap but functional, some are mid priced and functional and some are high priced and built more for fashion then actual use. I have seen them all from Domke to Crumpler to Fogg to Billingham to Artisan and Artist. I have probably had 60 bags through my house in the past 5 years as many get sent to me for review. Many times they do not even get reviewed (if they stink) and they get thrown to the side and sent back.

Occasionally a bag comes along that I really like. For example, there have been bags from Tenba, Artisan & Artist, Think Tank, Fogg and Ona that I adored. I even enjoyed the Camslinger bag and still do from time to time. But never has a bag come through that spoke to me in the way this Wotancraft Ryker does. In fact, it is the most beautiful, well made, useful and overall nice bag I have ever come across in my life. I prefer it to the Fogg bag that I owned (that was more expensive), I prefer it to the ONA bags I have had (and still own) and I prefer it to just about ANY bag, ever. Why? Well, there are many reasons and I go over them in the video above. What it boils down to is that this is just about as perfect as a camera bag can get for those who want a nice looking, well made leather bag. It is stylish, it is durable and it is comfortable. It holds a Leica and 2-3 lenses as well as an iPad mini and accessories. It feels good across the shoulder and the inside is well padded and protective as well as being pretty snazzy with the purple microfiber lining. The leather is soft and pliable not hard and stiff.

Wotancraft has a reputation for making super high quality hand crafted bags and leather goods. They are not a cheap fly by night operation and this bag is my perfect bag, end of story. I even use it for a video rig I carry around sometimes with a digital recorder and other items. Makes me want a undone in brown, one for my camera and one for my video setup.

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The leather is durable but soft as you can tell just by looking at the image above. The protective zipper leather flap protects your goods inside in the event of rain or snow. I have had this bag all over with me and even took it to New Orleans for the last Olympus media trip I went on. The bag still looks brand new. It has so far survived rain, water splashes and being set down on concrete several times. It looks and feels brand new. There was even one point when a beer was spilled on the bag (about 1/4 of a beer). No cloth to stain, no worry of water getting inside, no worry of your camera getting scratched up while inside. There really has not been anything left behind. The iPad pocket is inside and is nice and protected as well with a pocket and all.

The price of the Wotancraft quality does not come cheap. At $379 it is an expensive bag, but one that will last you a lifetime. Again, for me, it surpasses any bag I have owned or come across in quality, design, usefulness, size, weight, materials, and style. Some will say it looks purse (or murse) like, but so do 90% of camera bags. When on and walking around it looks like a shoulder bag. A nice shoulder bag.

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At $379 US it is well worth the cost, especially when a Fogg bag will set you back $600+ these days. This bag is perfect for a Leica system or Mirrorless system from Sony, Olympus or Fuji. All will be great for this bag. I have had compliments on it already while traveling. What people have liked is the soft luxurious feel of the bag and the features such as the purple lining and leather flap that protects the inside.

You can order the Wotancraft Ryker HERE.

It was out of stock for over a year and most thought it would not return. It is back, but I have no idea for how long. A brown one should be coming soon as well, but not sure how long away that is. This bag is in the Urban Classic line.

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PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 5 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple. 

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – (not bookmark able) Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;)

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. Thank you!

 

May 182014
 

Leica M 240 Art di Mano M Cases in stock.

Just a heads up to some of you who were looking for the Art di Mano cases for the M 240. Leicastoremiami.com has TWO in stock now! These are the standard cases to fit the M without a grip. After my review of the grip model they sold out quickly it seemed! They have one in all black and one in black with white stitch. Expensive but hands down the best case you can buy for your M in fit, finish, craftsmanship.  Just click the images to go direct to the page for the case in stock:

 

case

case2

May 022014
 

m240artet

Arte di Mano review, My favorite half case for the Leica M!

By Steve Huff

You can buy  these lovely cases over at LeicaStoreMiami HERE.

Hey guys! It’s Steve here, your favorite Leica, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Nikon and overall “any good” camera fanboy with yet another cool accessory review. This time I am reviewing something very special, very beautiful, very functional and very expensive. For the Leica M 240 there are many kinds of half cases available. They run the gamut from $50 to $500 and the one I am reviewing today is up there with the most expensive of the lot, of not THE most expensive of the lot. No, it is not a Luigi case but  speaking of Luigi, his cases have now been copied up and down and left and right. Luigi used to be the one and only original..the only case for the Leica M that you would buy if you wanted the real deal premium. Hand crafted, hand stitched, big beefy leather and quality. Not anymore. In fact, many tell me that Luigi has been slipping in quality lately, and if that is the case I feel it is because he is so busy and also trying to stay competitive with the new competition.

My video review of the Arte di Mano case is below, check it out :)

The only Luigi case I have ever owned was a let down for me. The cutouts were way off and borderline crooked on the back. It did not fit my M9 well at all. I mean, it fit, but it was not a “fit like a glove” style of fit. It was a more of a loose goose style of fit. I never used it due to the bad fit and awkward feel. Luigi has many fans and I can say he has huge passion for his craft. In fact, I have seen others who own his cases and they look gorgeous and over time they develop a rich patina. I have seen many with superb fit and finish so I may have just gotten a bad apple with mine. Then again, lately many have told me they had issues, so I ruled out Luigi for my M 240 case quest.

With me, since I run a review site I am always exposed to the newest products for cameras. I get companies constantly wanting me to review their products from cases, straps, iPhone cases, iPad cases, bags, and all kinds of accessories. 75% of the time I decline the offer (if it doesn’t really make me say “wow”, that is cool I will not review it) and other times I get the product and am let down by it, so no review.

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Cases for the M 240 that I have reviewed so far:

Gariz – (My review here)

I have had my share of M cases and have reviewed a couple of them on these pages. The very 1st was the Gariz M 240 case which I really think looks amazingly sharp on the camera. It is basic, does not wrap around the top and fits like it should. A glove. It is attractive, it feels nice (but not luxurious) and comes in at around $220. You can see my review for it HERE. .

Classic Cases – (My review here)

The classic cases M 240 case is pure old school and quality craftsmanship. In fact, when it arrived I replaced my Gariz with it so I could review it. After a while I appreciated it for its thick and sturdy quality. The classic cases M case is one you would like if you want thick sturdy leather that will age over time into a softer richer look and feel. When it is new though it is stiff. Also, my copy was not cut perfect. Since my review I was told they are now cut perfectly to avoid any issues.

FYI: I have also tried cases from Leica and Artisan and Artist that were not very good at all. The fit was loose and sloppy and the feel of the cases were not up there with the better cases. I found them to be not worth the money.

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and now…The Creme of the Crop

When the M came out I remember seeing a line of cases appear that everyone was raving about. Arte di Mano. These cases were handcrafted masterpieces with a snug fit that made it appear that the M was made for case instead of the other way around.

This is a case I immediately wanted but when I saw the price I refused to pay that much for a case. I mean, $390 for a half case? Nonsense. Well, that was my 1st thought. But as time went on, I really wanted one. I saw a couple of others who had them and wow, they felt so nice and had zero fit issues. I started to think..the camera is $7000. What is $390 for a case to protect it and give it a better grip? Nahhh, I ended up not being able to go to $390 so I ordered the Gariz for $200. But then I received the classic cases model. After a while, and seeing a friends Arte di Mano case I reminded myself of a rule I made to myself recently. BUY ONCE and be done with it. Meaning, do not buy the things you really do not want..save up for the ones you want. This will keep you from losing money in the long run.

Here is a video showing the process of making a case for the Leica X1. All by hand with attention to detail. Each case is also unique as each one is made by hand. No mass production.

So I decided to save up a little stash of cash every month until I could buy the Arte di Mano (I do not use or own even one credit card, by choice. I am all cash or nothing) case and possibly a new strap to match and soon the time came. I logged on to Lecia Store Miami where they sell the entire line and saw something new from Arte di Mano for the M 240. A few new cases actually. Uh oh, I had not planned on this..new cases and new (more expensive) prices.

They now have the standard case with grip built into the case or the cases that can be used on the M OVER the Leica M grip ($300 accessory) or even the M grip with GPS. The new cases looked amazingly cool. So I said “screw it” and placed an order for the M case that is for use with the M grip (which I also ordered). I ordered the extra long classic strap and then the leather pouch to hold my Leica EVF when I am not using it (snaps on to the strap). I told myself I was nuts but spent the cash anyway. The very next day my boxes arrived. Once I took them from the boxes and put the camera in the case I knew I made the right choice. “Ahhhhh..perfect” is what i said as the camera slid down into the supple soft leather case. After a couple of days shooting the camera with the case and using the strap I do not think I will ever buy any other brand of case for the M ever again. Really. I may review other brands but it will be very tough for anything to approach this level of fit and quality IMO.

From the fit, that could not be any better to the soft and supple luxurious leather it already feels like a nicely worn in leather case. The quality of the case is beautiful and is really for those of us who appreciate beautiful things such as this. If you own and love your Leica M then you would adore this case. That is IF you like half cases. Many of us M shooters prefer to shoot the camera naked ;) If you enjoy using a half case and enjoy a nice strap, this set is about as good as it gets but as Chris Kringle says in Santa Clause is Coming to Town “Be prepared to pay!”

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I have seen hundreds of M half cases in use from meeting so many of you out there over the years. I am telling you now..if you are not 100% thrilled with your half case fit, or are in the market for a half case then take a serious look at the Arte Di Mano line. I know of what I speak.

Leica Store Miami (Dale Photo) sells the entire line from cases to straps to EVF pouches. As for the EVF pouch it is so soft and well made. Again, luxury. Previous brand have always used the very hard stuff leather. This is like a fine leather glove. The way I like it.

So the Arte Di Mano line gets my 100% highest recommendation if it is quality you want. For pricing, they are in the stratosphere but I am afraid you do have to pay if you want this level of quality for your M. There are many choices in a case for your M but not many up to this level. Damn, am I now a Arte Di Mano fanboy? 100%!

A few of the styles of M case that are available from the Arte di Mano line starting with the version I have:

blackwgrip brownstandardbuiltin blackfortu blkopen

 

artdimano

Direct links to what I bought:

The case I bought for my M

All of the Arte di Mano cases

The strap I bought

ALL straps

The EVF Pouch I bought

and the Leica grip I purchased.

Arte di Mano also makes cases for the Leica M9, M-E, Monochrom, X-Vario and X1 and X2. I expect there to be a T case as well coming soon so if you own a different Leica you can still own a taste of case perfection.

-

PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 5 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple. 

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – (not bookmark able) Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;)

Apr 172014
 

Bags, Bags and a Strap! New from ONA Bags

ONA bags, the company that brings us the very cool ONA Bowery and brought Leica users the Limited Edition “Berlin” that sold out within a day now brings us a few new bags to choose from in our constant quest for the perfect travel and protection companion. These were announced this week and while I have not seen them up close and in person, I have received the press release so take a look at the new offerings from ONA and to read all about them click on over to ONABAGS.COM to see pricing, colors, and all of the other good stuff they have available. ONA is a top quality manufacturer of camera bags and they make some of my all time favorites. Below are a couple of new bags, even one that may fancy the ladies ;)

The Astoria:

Astoria Sell Sheet

The Astoria camera and laptop messenger bag is designed to accommodate a 13″ laptop, 1-2 full-frame DSLR cameras, 3-5 lenses and small personal items. Handcrafted with water-resistant waxed canvas and detailed with full-grain leather, the Astoria features four exterior pockets and a front zippered compartment for memory cards, batteries and everyday essentials. A discreet luggage sleeve on the back of the Astoria can be opened to slip through the handle of a rolling suitcase or closed to act as a slim pocket for a magazine or tablet. The completely customizable interior is padded with closed-cell foam.

 

Click HERE To see more at ONABAGS

Astoria_DarkTan_Side Astoria_DarkTan_Lifestyle6 Astoria_Interior

The Capri Tote

Astoria Sell Sheet

The Capri is a chic, understated camera tote bag designed to protect a camera,
up to three lenses and small personal items. Handcrafted with dark tan waxed canvas and
trimmed with luxe leather, the Capri has a personal items compartment that can fit an iPad or 11-inch MacBook Air, two interior pockets for personal items, and a zipped back pocket. The soft leather handles allow you to wear the bag comfortably over your shoulder and a zip closure keeps items safe and secure.

 

See more at ONABAGS

Capri_Dark Tan_Back

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Capri Tote_2

The Leather Presidio Strap

Presidio Sell Sheet_Media PD

The Presidio camera strap is handcrafted with an Italian-tanned leather neckline that is
padded with soft neoprene. Two sets of chrome buckles allow for adjusting the length, while custom rivets provide an extra style point. The Presidio camera strap is most comfortably worn crossbody and is designed for use with camera kits weighing up to 6 pounds.

Drop Length: Adjustable from 19.5” to 23.5”
Total Length: 63”

 

See more at ONABAGS!

Leather_Presidio_AntiqueCognac

Leather_Presidio_Dark Truffle

ONA_LR_208

ONA_LR_125

Apr 142014
 

Fuji X-T1 Ergonomic DYI Improvements

by Ronald Grauer

2014-1000856

I will not talk to you about the quality of the camera, we all know it’s a good camera with some little problem like every camera has. Of course, I couldn’t do anything about what’s going on inside, but I could do something about 2 of the major problem I’ve found on it:

- The eyecup is to small and not deep enough. Mostly when shooting in bright light. And also after 3 years with the Sony Nex camera (Nex 7 than Nex 6), I missed a bit the left side EVF found on the Nex Camera

- The rear 4 pad, which has been discussed on every single review on the net… Almost a shame to design such a pad.

So If you want to try this little fix, feel free…

For the eyecup I used a Nikon dk-4. But I think most of the wide, round rubber eyecup should fit. Plenty of them on Ebay.

The eyecup is glued on the plastic base from the original Fuji eyecup. Unscrew the 2 screws to remove the Fuji rubber eyecup.

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But you need to use the Sugru material (I have nothing to do with them…!) or any other similar material. Cause just the glue won’t be enough. I’m not a glue expert, but I tried different very good glue, nothing could hold it. The rubber material is a porous material so you need to shape something on top of these 2 elements. And this will make them more homogeneous for the look.

It’s called ”Sugru”, www.sugru.com

I’ve also used this amazing product to customize the rear 4 pad.

It’s made in England.

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You have an hour or so to shape this “king of rubber”. Let it dry for 12 hours and it will keep the shape and have some elasticity. As sugru says, this material sticks to 99% of the material in the world.

It has been awarded as one of the most amazing material invented in the last years…

It cost around 15 euros for 8 little package…

Hope this post will help many other users…

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I’ll finish by telling you that after all, I’m a passionate photographer.

here is my website link: www.ronaldgrauer.com.

Keep with what you’re doing.

Regards,

Ronald.

© 2009-2014 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved
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